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26182: Nlbo: some historical connection between Haiti and New Orleans (fwd)
Just sharing some historical connection between Haiti and New Orleans and
background info to help in contextualizing the images we are seeing in the
aftermath Katrina. Besides WestAfrica, in the Western world, New Orleans,Louisana
and Baltimore, Maryland are places where Haitians have real authentic ancestors.
As one knows, there is a whole history of slavery in the South including New
Orleans, Louisiana. But as Haitians, since Louisana belonged to France and we
were French slaves also, we have some cultural, French Creole connections.
Some adults in Louisiana still speak Creole there. Catholicism is a major
religion there. Since French were Catholics, Haitian slaves went to Louisiana and
Baltimore with their French masters in early 1790's when Boukman, Toussaint,
Marie Jeanne de la Martiniere and other slaves revolted. Also, New Orleans was
a major port. There was a big trade of slaves and other goods like sugar
between Cuba, Haiti, New Orleans, and Missipi. There was a " going back and forth"
between Haiti, Cuba and the region.
If one has a chance to go to the library, read books by Michel Laguerre. He
is a Haitian professor at UCal in Berkely. His specialty is Haitian Migration.
In terms of the Haitian catholic connection with African American Catholic
,one can deduct from the work of Catholic historian , the monk, Rev.Dr. Cyprian
Davis in his substantial writings that Haitian Catholics set precedent to put
African American Catholics in a documented historical context. But unless you
are really reading and going to conferences, as Blacks they still see us as
slaves, teaching us our historical contributions, in the world, in the US and
in Christianity, of course is not a school curriculum priority. Nowadays most
people don't even know there are African American Catholics, not alone putting
the Haitians in the historical context of Black Catholics.
I have been suggesting for the past 10 years in my church to learn about
church issues. Many in the Boston area or in the catholic church community reading
this have a" snail mail" from me suggesting learning, education in one form
or another should have a priority in the Haitian community. I think as human
beings, regardless of our profressions, we should have an understanding of
events that are making national and international news, in this case Katrina.
Those who have received letters from me may not see the relevance of learning
about how religion relates to our daily lives. For instance, coming from a
Catholic country, it would have been important to understand the events, the
international and national news when the Pope John Paul II died, the election of
a new pope, the Eastern prelates that participated in the pope's funeral.
That's why I have been saying we have to keep learning so we can always make
connections with daily events.
As I explained above, there is a lot of historical, cultural, and religious
connection between the area affected by Katrina and Haiti. But the sense I
have once many of us feel good where we are. We have gone to school to get a good
job, a beautiful house, there is no need to learn about other fields and have
an atmosphere to share our wide,vast range of knowlege. It's info that all
Blacks should be aware of. When one hears of deseg case Plessy vs. Ferguson.
Plessy was of Haitian descent.
Recently in Montreal , I stayed over a nurse's place. Meanwhile a historian
invited me to sleep over her house. Learning and seeing how they live their
knowledge and how their surrounding reflect their field was enriching.
Last year I stayed in DC over some Haitians who are the great grandchildren
of Thomas Madiou and Massillon Coicou. I made copies of pictures, newspaper
articles, and writings. I would like to inherit their albums, journals, pictures,
and many other things . These are people who should be traveling around the
Haitian communities and talk with the younger generations. Arrangements should
be made so those pictures, article clips could be in a museum, or a library
once the grandmother is gone. Then to do that , one has to go to âa foreignerâ
to find money to catalog,arrange those documents, and find time to talk and
write what one will learn from the descendants of Massillon Coicou and Thomas
Madiou. Preserving, sharing our Haitian history and culture is not a priority
in this community.
We have seen pictures of how the world views Haiti through Cite Soleil.
Through our schooling and pictures in the books we studied , we were given a
negative picture of Africa. Those hip hop videos had created a very âsexually
chargedâ conception of Black women in the United States throughout the world. Now
if the footage that are projected of Blacks in the New Orleans area which many
are seeing as the whole Black life in the United States, I donât know what
will give us a wake up call to change the image of the whole Black race.
I see long term change can occur by investing financially and emotionally in
education, young Black people and set an atmosphere to share our vast
resources. As a Black person, I am embarrassed and ashamed of these images.